Heroes of Newerth, S2Games’ spin on the MOBA (Read – DotA-inspired) genre has had its ups and downs, certainly. The continuing increase of Dota 2 beta invites going out is pulling a few people away, and some players prefer the more casual feel of League of Legends. As it stood, the competitive future for HoN (which was previously a reasonably popular eSport) was looking somewhat grim. However, S2 came out with a new tournament in order to send more teams to Dreamhack, the world’s largest LAN festival, held twice per year in Sweden.
To attempt to drum up more interest in competitive HoN, S2 offered 6 teams an all expenses paid trip to Dreamhack Summer. The catch? They held regional qualifying tournaments to determine who would make it – only the top team would get the spot, with other hopefuls needing to pay their own way and fight through the grueling first day of qualifiers (known as the Bring Your Own Computer brackets) at the main event. Seeing as that isn’t something that’s feasible for the majority of teams, especially those without sponsors, the chance offered by S2 was possibly once in a lifetime for some hopeful competitors. A huge influx of teams signed up for the event, and S2′s effort to revive the HoN competitive scene seemed to be off to an excellent start.
The six regions available were US, Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Korea, Southeast Asia, and Australia, with the US, EU, and AU tournaments being shoutcasted by S2Games’ sponsored casting site (and my former lead caster from my own shoutcasting days!), http://www.honcast.com/. Both new and established teams alike entered the tournaments with dreams of getting sent to Dreamhack on S2′s dime, and the competition quickly became fierce. The tournament was double elimination, and the big name teams in each bracket held their own quite respectably, with most of them making it to the grand finals through the Winner’s Bracket. In the US, Trademark eSports (tDm) defeated all opposition and beat Fun in the Sun Gaming twice to take the bracket. In the AU bracket, Frenetic Array (Fray) trounced all challengers and easily claimed their prize. But the EU bracket was in for a shock, as relatively unknown team Blackfade (BxF) showed great skill all the way through the Winner’s Bracket, defeating both Coming Soon (sGty) and Team It’s Gosu (TiG), the two teams everyone expected to be competing for the top prize, to secure a spot in the grand finals.
After sGty won out against TiG in the loser’s bracket, they moved on to a Bo5 final against BxF and were again beaten decisively, losing the matchup 3-0. BxF pleasantly surprised everyone and proved that there is definitely still untapped and unsponsored talent on the HoN scene, and they’ll be celebrating their victory with a chance to play against all of the other qualifying teams, as well as Dreamhack Winter HoN champions Fnatic Raidcall in the group stages of the finals. Those who followed the event know that BxF wasn’t the only relatively new team to do well, either, and it seems to have shown that while the HoN competitive scene was floundering briefly, it will roar right back given the proper stimuli.
BxF, Fray, and tDm will join the other 3 qualifying teams, Fnatic Raidcall, and the winner of the BYOC tournament in the 8 team group stages of the Dreamhack HoN finals, and the four teams that come out of those matches with the best records will advance to the Bo3 semifinals and – hopefully – the finals, for a shot at both prize money and glory. Best of luck to all teams involved, and enjoy your time at Dreamhack Summer!
If you’re interested in checking out commentaries of the DreamHoN matches, check out http://www.honcast.com/events/dreamhon. Finally, I’d like to give a personal shoutout to BreakyCPK – keep up the great casting work!
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